Brand Insight: Why McDonald’s is Lovin’ It
As examples of global mega-brands go, there can be few that trump McDonald’s. The famous Golden Arches can be found everywhere from Times Square to Tiananmen Square and the brand has an almost inescapable presence. But omnipresence comes with a unique set of challenges – over the years McDonald’s has successfully walked the line between creating a strong international voice while infusing the brand with local flavours. And that success has recently been acknowledged by Cannes Lions – the festival has named them Cannes Marketer of the Year 2014. LBB’s Laura Swinton caught up with Matt Biespiel, Senior Director of McDonald’s Global Brand Strategy.
LBB> McDonald’s has been named Marketer of the Year 2014 by Cannes Lions – congratulations! – why do you think McDonald’s has been singled out for its marketing and advertising efforts this year?
MB> McDonald’s has a legacy of creative excellence. With our agency partners, we have created some of the world’s most memorable advertising. Not to mention, McDonald’s has one of the only global advertising campaigns: ‘i’m lovin’ it’. It has remained relevant for more than 10 years, giving us a strong global voice with ample room for local nuance and accent.
We are fortunate to have won numerous creative awards. At Cannes, we’ve won Lions across multiple categories and from every part of the world, representing our brand’s global dedication to creativity and innovative marketing at all levels. Importantly, Cannes Lions understands that McDonald’s is a passionate believer in the power of big ideas to build our brand to drive our business.
LBB> McDonald’s is, it goes without saying, an enormous global brand. How do you ensure brand consistency across so many markets and media while also allowing for flexibility and relevance to local cultures and tastes? Is that a tricky balance to strike? And – which markets/regions have particularly stood out to you over the past year in terms of creativity and innovation for McDonald’s advertising and marketing?
MB> While we do business in more than 100 countries, we are also a single global brand. The power in our communications comes from capitalizing on both of these dimensions to communicate with our customers in the most meaningful manner possible. Globally, all of our people understand our brand direction. We call it our ‘global voice’. Our colleagues are then free to uncover deep consumer insights within their geographies to bring that voice to life. We call it our ‘local accent’.
In terms of markets, we have more and more countries that are creating irresistible ideas. Looking at the number of Lions won as a KPI, we’d have to say that South Africa, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom are at the top of their games. Just take a look at some of their work. In Canada with ‘Our Food, Your Questions’ we answered thousands of real-time questions about McDonald’s food. We then published answers online via compelling videos and photography. In Australia with ‘McDonald’s Becomes Macca’s’, we took advantage of the local nickname for our brand and transformed 13 McDonald’s restaurants into ‘Macca’s’ for a month to celebrate Australia Day and our 40-year anniversary in the country.
LBB> McDonald’s and Leo Burnett have one of those famous – and increasingly rare – long-standing relationships. What are the advantages of having such a long-term relationship? And why do you think McDonald’s and Leo Burnett work so well together?
JH>One of the underpinnings of McDonald’s is a belief in what we call the ‘three-legged stool’, which includes franchisees, our employees and supplier partners. Our agencies are certainly part of that successful formula.
We’re proud to say that we have enduring and multi-geographic relationships with our network partners. As you mentioned, Leo Burnett, but we also continue to have long-lasting relationships with DDB, OMD, TBWA, Dentsu in Japan, as well as Taterka in Latin America and Cossette in Canada. The benefit? These agencies are immersed in our business on a global, regional and local basis, which positions them to provide the most informed strategic thinking for our brand. These long-standing relationships also mean that we are completely in-sync with where we are now and where we need to be in the future. It’s not surprising that where our agency relationships are strongest, our creative content is consistently the best.
LBB> I was interested to see that you originally studied journalism before heading into PR and then advertising and marketing.Have these journalistic foundations helped in your current role with McDonald’s?
MB> My journalism education taught me the power of exceptional storytelling. The big difference today is that the canvas to tell those stories is broader than ever, and the people we’re trying to reach are no longer simply listening to our story. They want to be part of the story.
LBB> As an advertiser, what are your views on the evolving media landscape and emerging platforms. Roughly speaking, what would you say the split between traditional and non-traditional advertising is and how do you see that changing? And are there any new platforms or technologies that have piqued your interest for possible McDonald’s involvement?
MB> I can’t think of a more exciting time to be in the communications business. The rules are changing and marketers are writing the rule book. Today, the key is to develop fun and engaging content that people see as adding value to their lives. It needs to demonstrate that we understand them in ways that others don’t. Content that goes well beyond what we have to offer. So whether we’re building a mobile app, an out-of-home display, or a 20 second TV commercial, we have to ask ourselves the hard strategic question: Why will people care? When we get the “why” right, our creative is irresistible.
Category: Fast food , Retail and restaurants